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October 1953 LIBRARY E-867 

STATE PLANT BOARD 

United States Department of Agriculture 

Agricultural Research Administration 

Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine 



STATUS OF THE IMPORTED FIRE ANT 
IN THE SOUTHERN STATES IN JULY 1953 



By George H. Culpepper 
Division of Insects Affecting Man and Animals 



Periodically from September 1949 to July 1953 personnel of the 
Bureau of Entomology and Plant Quarantine conducted surveys relative 
to the imported fire ant ( Solenopsis saevissima var. richteri Forel). 
These surveys included Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, 
Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and 
Virginia, and were conducted in cooperation with these States. 

The object of these surveys was to determine the distribution, rela- 
tive abundance, and rate of spread of the imported fire ant and the 
damage it caused to agricultural crops. During each survey proper 
methods and materials for controlling this ant were demonstrated, and 
new infestations containing only a few colonies were treated. 

When the work was initiated in 1949, the areas known to be infested 
by the imported fire ant included 2 counties in western Florida, 8 counties 
in southwest and south-central Alabama, and 10 counties in southeast and 
eastern Mississippi, or a total of 20 counties in 3 States. The States of 
Mississippi and Alabama had previously conducted some surveys on dis- 
tribution and abundance, and had also investigated methods of control. 

The initial methods used in surveying proved unsatisfactory. This 
method consisted in observing lawns, parks, parkways, roadsides, 
railroad rights-of-ways, airports, pasturelands, and shipping docks, 
and contacting extension personnel and farmers. Few new infestations 
were discovered by this method. 

Then the survey method was changed to include the inspection of 
nurseries. Emphasis was concentrated on nursery inspection principally 
because several isolated infestations were found in nurseries far re- 
moved from the general infestations in southeast Mississippi and south- 
west Alabama. It was, also, less difficult to inspect nurseries and find 
mounds during the summer months, when vegetation is high and thick, 
than it is to observe extensive general areas. 

Nursery inspection revealed a tremendous increase in the areas 
infested in the Southeastern States. Infestations have been found in 102 
counties and parishes in 10 States. Infestations found in Florida increased 



2 - 



•'' I to 26, and in M m 

-th 
i , North Carolii L . • >na, and Texas in areas 

. known Infe ted. 1 he 

Initi ras infested by the imported fire ai I on 

Only a minimum of I .uired for • ol and demon- 

nection with these St. I'sually a rake, a 3-gallon 

inklir.. i small amount of emulsifi. ide concen- 

• all that was necessary. By treating individual mounds ptly 

. discovered, it is ved that infestations were eradicated in s 

I counties of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas. 
A brief discussion of the infestation discovered in the various States 
during these surveys follov,.^. 

ALABAMA 

Ii. Alabama the infestation is most severe in the southwest portion of 
State except in Dallas County; however, localized infestations 

found in many other sections. In U stations were found in 26 counties 

as follows: 



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Western half 

Entire county 

3 nurseries at Greenville 

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Southeast portion 

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LOUISIANA 



In Louisiana the coastal parishes and the southern part of the State are 
the most heavily infested sections. In central and north Louisiana only 
light infestations were found. 



Parish 



Area Infested 



Abundance 



Caddo 

East Baton Rouge 

Iberia 

Jefferson 

Lafayette 

Orleans 

Ouachita 

Plaquemines 

Pointe Coupee 

Rapides 

St. Bernard 

St. John the Baptist 

St. Landry 

St. Martin 

St. Tammany 

Vermilion 

Washington 



2 nurseries at Shreveport 

West portion 

New Iberia-Delcambre area 

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Entire parish 

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portion 
Entire parish 
Nursery at Monroe 
North portion 

1 nursery 

2 nurseries near Lecompte 
West portion 

1 nursery 

Sunset-Opelousas area 
South portion 
Lacombe-Folsom area 
Delcambre-Abbeville area 
Bogalusa-Franklinton area 



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NORTH CAROLINA 

Only two infestations were found in North Carolina, and these were 
discovered in nurseries in Wake and Mecklenburg Counties. 

SOUTH CAROLINA 

Two light infestations were found in South Carolina- -one in a nursery 
in Charleston County, near Charleston, and the other in a nursery in 
Orangeburg County, near Orangeburg. 

TENNESSEE 

Light infestations were found in three nursery sites in Shelby County 
in Memphis. A survey through the central part of the State failed to 
reveal any other infestations. 

TEXAS 

Infestations were found in five counties of eastern Texas. The only 
heavy infestation was in the Orange and Beaumont areas. 

County Area Infested Abundance 

Gregg 1 nursery at Longview Light 

Harris 1 nursery at Houston Light 

Jefferson 1 nursery at Port Arthur Light 

Orange 2 nurseries at Orange and 

1 near Beaumont Heavy 

Smith 3 nurseries at Tyler Light 

VIRGINIA 

The eastern half of Virginia was surveyed, but no imported fire 
ants were found. 

DAMAGE TO AGRICULTURAL CROPS 

Observations were made to determine the damage by the imported 
fire ant to four major truck crops grown in Baldwin and Mobile Counties 
of Alabama. These four crops were cabbage, okra, potatoes, and 
broccoli. The percentage of damage to each crop varied, apparently 
with the availability of other foods. 

In 1951 approximately 400 acres of cabbage were under observation. 
About 5 percent of the crop was damaged, which meant a loss of about 
$4,000. 

In 1950 damage to the potato crop in the two counties was estimated 
to be approximately $5,000. 



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oss in s , , he loss in land value due to the a »te 

number of an1 inds is estimated to be : ,000 anr.